Thursday, August 25, 2011

A Relaxing Jam-Packed Summer

Summer is just around the corner...and thank God for that...I’ve been counting down the days until my kids are off from school so we can all relax. Haven’t you?

This has been a very long year and somewhat depressing with winter refusing to give up control for so long. However, now that we’ve made it through the cold and dreary months, we can happily pack away the jeans and jackets and throw on a pair of shorts and tank top—or a sundress if you’re like me — to soak up the sun and reenergize.

But, before I can fully relax, there is one more thing I must do....and that is to get the summer schedule set. WHAT?! Summer schedule are you kidding me??

Listen, maybe it’s the mini Tiger mom in me (mind you, I said mini) but, I can’t just have the kids sit at home ALL day and not have something other than computer games to keep them stimulated. I want them to get out and do things that they normally don’t have time to do...such as cutting the grass, walking the dog, weeding the garden, cleaning the garage...oh wait, that’s my list. In all seriousness, although summer is the time to relax, it is also a good time for learning and development.

Now, I’m not the mom who is going to purchase workbooks and assign page after page of math and grammar for each child, because — guess what, I’ve done it before and it never gets done, so this year, I’m not even going to try (told you —“mini” Tiger mom)

Instead, this summer we are really focusing in on things that truly interest the kids. So far we’re looking at tennis (this is pretty much a given in our household), golf, art, cooking class, computer programming and swimming. What are some fun things you are looking at for your kids?

Now, I know that these classes will only occupy a portion of their time each day, so this year I plan to spend the rest of the day at the Indian Trail Club. (We’ve been members at ITC for several years, but in all honesty, we haven’t really used the club at all. It’s beginning to resemble my gym membership!) So, this summer I will be taking (perhaps dragging) my kiddies to the club. In truth, it is a beautiful place... I especially love sitting in the Adirondack chairs looking out onto the’s a great place to just let your mind wander (and think about all the errands and chores that need to be done once you get home).

Now, with all the various activities that we are trying to schedule, we are still planning on heading out of town for some true family fun getaways. This year, as in any years, we are vacationing with the cousins from both sides of the family. Our summer road trips include various places such as Cape May, Spring Lake and Ocean City, MD for starters Have any of you been to Ocean City? Any suggestions on restaurants? (You know I’m all about the food!)

This year, I have also challenged my kids, as well as myself, to think about one thing that they would like to accomplish during the summer (you know, kind of like a New Year’s Resolution thing, which I must say I have not stuck to...bad mommy). This can be anything from learning a new hobby, writing a short story, improving your second serve, reading five books that have been sitting on the counter for months or painting a doesn't really matter. I just thought that it would be nice to have a short term goal for the summer weeks. Plus, it will be fun to see who will actually do it and stick to it. Perhaps we should make a friendly wager...anyone out there up for the challenge?

Well, I hope that your family has a wonderful summer break and if you so happen to see me buzzing around town, driving the kids to their various activities, please stop me and make sure that I didn't forget to schedule in relaxation time into my calendar.

* This is an article I wrote for an online news site

Behind the Baseline

In a town such as Franklin Lakes, it is not unusual to see kids focusing on a particular sport fairly early on in their lives. I’ve seen kids as young as 4 years of age working on their speed and agility, parents on the sidelines snapping pictures and videotaping the beginnings of a most promising career.
Wanting to give our kids the chances we never had when we were growing up, we eagerly sign them up for a sport that we feel suits their talents, purchase all necessary equipment as well as accessories for their given sport, research area coaches to help give our kids the leg up and then happily dawn on our chauffeur cap in order to shuttle them to their practices, games and tournaments.
Then after all the sacrifices…the umbrella fights in the cold rain, the constant driving back and forth through unyielding traffic, the missed family dinners and quality time we desperately need as a family unit, and the late night homework shuffle …we find ourselves pacing the sidelines like a caged animal as we watch the game unfold and witness the not so bright moments of our young athletes. What are you doing?....Run!!....No, HIT the ball…oh for goodness sakes….
Does any of this sound familiar?
Now, as a parent of a young athlete, I must say that I have been there, done that.
My oldest is a tennis player, but let me start by saying that I most certainly did NOT push her into tennis. This was truly a decision she made on her own and I constantly remind her that if it ever gets to be too much, all she needs to say is “enough.”
So, with that said, when we began playing tennis (I say “we” because this was truly a learning process for the whole family) I soon became a crazy tennis mom. Yes, I admit it. I would sit at her practice for 2 hours straight each day (she practices 5 days a week) speaking to veteran parents behind the baseline, gleaning any pertinent information…watching ….analyzing ….hoping that this could turn into something truly promising (like it did for my cousin who got a full ride to Princeton University….way to go Sarah!)
After months of hard work, we were ready for our very first tournament. I stood under the awning, trying to hide from the intensity of the summer sun….my heart racing, stomach churning, palms sweating, watching with baited breath as the little yellow ball bounced back and forth sometimes seemingly hovering over the net. Every point played felt as if it lasted an eternity.
From nearby courts, I could hear the shuffling of feet, clapping, grunts and occasional raised voices as parents fight with one another while their children battled on the courts (FYI: Tennis parents are vicious!) Finally, it was over….my daughter came in second, losing to a fellow teammate. With heads held high, we congratulated the winner and headed to the car. Needless to say, the hour long car ride was not fun. Frustrated with the performance I just witnessed, I laid into her, lecturing her the entire way home. What happened?....You have to want to win!....You have NO DRIVE!...turn with the hips…. concentrate….follow through….blah blah blah.
I told you I was a crazy tennis mom….
By the time we arrived home, I was hoarse and my daughter was crying…..and for what?! Tennis?
Luckily, my husband who is always the voice of reason (please don’t tell him I said that) told me about his experience as a young aspiring tennis player. He explained how we can’t take the fun out of a sport because when he was a young teen, his father pushed him so hard that eventually he hated the sport and refused to play. Does this sound familiar?
So I thought long and hard about why we want our children to play a sport.  Is it so that they can receive college scholarships, join the Olympic team, play in the US Open? No, although that would be great.
We want them to play a sport so that they can build up their self confidence. I want my children to be confident (not cocky…there is a fine line) and to know who they are and what defines them. I want them to be happy.
So, does my daughter still love tennis? Absolutely. Do I still drive her all over Bergen County for practices and drills? Sure. Does she still compete in tournaments? Of course...but now my husband takes her.
Do you know parents who are living vicariously through their children? Were you one of them?

* This is an article that I wrote for an online news site


Now, I feel that it is safe to say that we are all very proud of our children and of their accomplishments, whether big or small. I also feel that it is safe to say that most adults would be happy to hear about accomplishments that other children have achieved, whether they received straight A’s on a report card, or have become an accomplished musician or athlete, or if they are just an all around great kid. However, what do you do when you come face to face with a hard core "Mom-petitor"? 
What's a Mom-petitor? Oh, you ofthose mom's who likes to compare her child to everyone else's, just to make sure that they are where they should be, which in her mind is ahead of yours. 
Have you run into any of these lovely women? I must say that so far my experience in Franklin Lakes has been very pleasant, although I can't say the same for some of my girlfriends (pssst....don't worry.....what goes around comes around....) 
Now, when I was a kid, I was an unwilling participant to the "let's compare our kids" madness. Mind you, my mother was a "Tiger Mom", albeit a lenient one and all her friends were pretty much the same. Unfortunately for my dear mother, I never seemed to be considered one of the "top" kids in our group of friends. It was always, so and so scored a perfect SAT score, so and so got into Harvard, so and so got into Medical school, so and so surprised her mother with a brand new Mercedes for her birthday...can I barf now? Ugh, seriously....a Mercedes why not the Porsche?Please… 
It wasn't that my mom sought out this information that made me feel totally inferior, on the contrary, she tried her best to avoid these discussions (I would too if I had a daughter like me, but that's a story for another day). However, when you're standing face to face, or stuck in a corner with one of these competitive, no EQ type of mom, you have no choice but to listen and try to smile politely as you secretly grind your teeth and wring your hands, hoping that something catastrophic would occur so you could make your escape (which of course never happens). 
I grew up hating...absolutely despising some of the kids in our community. Even to this day if my mom mentions "so and so's" name I cringed! I know, I know, I'm older now and I should be able to look past all that, but those crazy "mom-petitors" made my life miserable when I was younger and I honestly think that they scarred me. 
In fact, one evening a bunch of our old college friends got together for dinner in New York. We were having a blast, talking and laughing while the kids all played nicely in the family room. All of a sudden a friend of ours says, "Hey kids, let's all come to the piano and have a little concert. You can all play a piece that you have been working on. How does that sound?" WHAT!?  How does that sound? It sounds awful! 
As I watched the children file into the living room, everything suddenly went into slow motion as if in one of those action movies.....I leaped over the kitchen table, stumbled across the hallway into the living room, yanked my two kids from the lineup, glanced at my imaginary watch, hollered to the hostess that we had to leave because it was getting late, as I tossed our shoes and jackets into my bag and flew out of the house. Made it….we’re safe….whew! That was close! 
Have you ever been in a situation where you fled the scene of an impending "kid comparison" setup? How did you cope with the situation? 
Alright, perhaps I overreacted just a tad, but I never liked being compared to other kids when I was younger and I don't want to put my children through that either. I want my kids to be confident in whom they are and not undermine them by comparing them to others. Now, mind you, I am by no means saying that I don't occasionally compare my kids to other children...I am, after all, still human.......I'm not perfect (believe it or not....hee hee). 
So to all the "mom-petitors" out there, I'm happy that your child was potty trained right out of the womb, and that they can speak 3 languages at age four, take college courses while in elementary school and earn $60,000 just over the summer......but, can they do this?!......oh, can't see me......oh well, it's probably for the better....
*This is an article that I wrote for an online news site

Overbooked! No Time To Breathe

Now, I know that I shouldn’t complain. Here I am…. a wife to a wonderful husband who works his tail off so that I can have the option to stay home, while trying to figure out what it is I want to do when I grow up….mother to three fairly well behaved children, except for when they drive me absolutely batty….and part owner of a goofy “non-shedding -midsized” dog or should I say horse (isn’t there a law against false advertisement… I should get my money back so that I can replace the vacuum that broke due to all the “non-existent” fur)….so what am I complaining about? Well, that’s easy…I’m too busy.
I see you rolling your eyes….poor little Franklin Lakes housewife….she’s too busy…getting a mani and pedi, hanging out at the salon, playing tennis at the club, meeting for lunch while “discussing”  PTA and school stuff, drinking lattes and eating scones….PLEASE, get real!
The thing is, until you step into my shoes (or stilettos…I do so love my stilettos) you have no idea how crazy my life is. I’m not claiming that I’m the only mom in Franklin Lakes who is insanely crazed and busy…on the contrary, I actually think that most moms in town are in the same situation.
 I admit that I get the occasional mani and pedi, and the hour at the salon is “me” time, I play tennis when I can so that I get some exercise and I do have PTA meetings, but never over lunch and I don’t drink lattes – they make my tummy hurt. But, this not what I’m talking about… the problem is that we as a family are way overbooked, over scheduled and over committed!
Ya get it?! Do you agree?
The root of the problem is that I’ve always wanted to give my kids the opportunity to do things that I never got to do. I want them to pursue things that interest them, take classes in things that inspire them and learn things that my husband and I deem important to their future. So, I asked the kids what they wanted to do….enrolled them in a billion classes in places as local as the Karate place on Franklin Avenue all the way to Timbuktu and thus started living our lives out of our car.
Life started to get hectic fairly quickly ,especially since I’m the primary chauffeur (I’m sometimes in the car, non-stop, for 5-6 hours, driving around and around and around…sometimes not getting home until 9:45pm.) We are doing so many things and going in so many different directions, that I had to simplify my life…yes, I gave up the paper calendar and converted to Google Calendar and boy was that the right move. Now, everything is color coordinated with little bells to remind me of classes, activities, appointments, lunch dates, shopping trips (just kidding…..not reallyand I can even keep track of the Philadelphia Eagles game times when football season starts …how cool!
Our family motto: If it’s not on the calendar, then it’s not happening!
Now don’t think that you can look at this calendar and know everything that happens in our lives, because I still keep certain things in my head, and even though there is some sort of method to the kaleidoscope of colors on my calendar, trying to decipher it may give you a headache.
Everything in our lives has been orchestrated to the last second….we are so jammed packed that there’s barely any room for the slightest delay, let alone breathing….there is no time for rain, sleet or snow, grannies on the road, tractors (I’m stuck behind these everyday on Colonial Road….sucks!) or bathroom breaks….didn’t you just go 10 hours ago?! Geez!
The funny things is, that although we now have the schedule flowing perfectly…and believe me, it was a feat trying to schedule 24 lessons/classes between the three kids in a weeks time (and we do this week after week, month after month), all I want to do now is come to a full stop.  
I’m constantly stressed and now, my kids, for whom this was all done for, are stressed and tired. Can you relate? Do your kids ever feel this way?
The problem I’m having is that as I look at the well crafted master calendar (hold on as I gag….just giving myself some props….clap clap), there is really nothing that I can take out, except for one or two things here and there. The bulk of the schedule seems necessary. So, what am I to do? Any suggestions? Therapy?
We can’t cut out language, because we want our kids to at least be able to understand our families when they come to visit….we can’t cut out music, because we feel they should all be able to play at least one instrument (poor playing is better than no playing – right?)….and we can’t touch the tennis, ballet or karate because physical activity is important, especially in this day and age of video games and Youtube. So, you see my dilemma?
I wish I was as brave and bold as my friend K.J. who told me once that she cancelled all classes and activities for an entire month…, could you imagine? The kids would go to school in the morning, come home in the afternoon and that’s it! You’re in for the night!! True family time…..just like the good old days.
I don’t think it is all that healthy for the kids to be so over scheduled, but now that I’m here, how do I change it?
How crazy is your schedule? How have you pared down your family’s activities and commitments? Does anyone have a copy of the documentary “Race to Nowhere”? And most importantly, what’s the name of your psychologist? I need to make an appointment…..although my first availability is about 6 months out….HELP!
* This is an article I wrote for an online news site

Grounded in Franklin Lakes

Sitting here in the Franklin Lakes Starbucks, typing on my iPad and watching the people come in and, women, teens, kids and babies, a question popped into my mind, as I watch a young teen ask for some complicated concoction from the ever friendly staff. How in the world do you stay grounded in a town such as this? Better yet, how do we ensure that our children stay grounded? 
It's wonderful to be living's beautiful and quiet...we've got a good school system with great teachers...I've made some amazing friends...I found a hairstylist that knows exactly what I want (we all know how difficult that is....thanks Vic for your cutting edge style....ahem....check out The Chateau Salon)...and it's been interesting to see how many times I have to tell my kids...I don't care if so and so has such and such, we are not getting it! 
Does this conversation come up in your household? Am I the only one who feels that kids these days are way too spoiled?
You see, if you are new to town or to any of the surrounding towns in Bergen County, let me give you a brief overview of life with kids in an affluent town. You will notice that I have only covered a few topics, but it will give you a good idea of what I'm talking about (this of course is only the opinion of a lowly Franklin Lakes Housewife).
  •  Computers: With all the advancements in technology, our kids now have the luxury of accessing the world wide web (do you think kids even know what www stands for?.....ha ha ha) from an itty bitty sherbet colored, blinged out smartphone (can you tell I have girls?) but, it doesn't stop there. day as you're looking around your house, feeling good that you are able to provide your family with two PC laptops and now an Apple computer (not to mention the cell phone that you just bestowed upon you oldest daughter), your ever loving child will ask you for her own Apple laptop....are you serious? Why? Oh.....because your friends all have their own and you don't want to deal with other peoples accounts on the main computer.....I see, well then...FORGET IT!  We're family, deal with it. Do you have any idea how lucky you are to even have a computer? When I was your age, we didn't have cellphones, personal computers, DSs...the most exciting thing I remember as a kid was the electric typewriter...spoiled kids (grumble grumble)... 
  •  Houses: After years of hard work, you and your spouse have finally purchased a house in beautiful Franklin Lakes. It’s everything you dreamed of...there's plenty of room for the kids to roam, they each have a separate bedroom, you have a kitchen that allows more than one person in at a time and you actually have a yard....then, your child goes on their first playdate and comes home, takes a good look around and and so house is sooooo big and come our house isn't like that? What?! Who says its not?!  Pop-pitty-pop...pop...pop... Your little happy bubble just collapsed and you look around at the broken steps, fallen gutters, dug up lawn (courtesy of the four legged pet you agreed to in a moment of weakness) and you decide to take this Hallmark moment and make it into a learning experience. Do you realize that we are very lucky to be living here? Daddy works very hard so that we can live in this, how can mommy make the house look nice when you guys never pick up after yourselves, you eat in every room...leaving crumbs everywhere, Kiki (the furry destroyer of all things) tracks mud and dirt into the house and you guys constantly bounce from bed to sofa as if on a trampoline...there is NO way I'm getting nice furniture until you are all off to college...and that includes the dog!!! Ridiculous!
  •  Clothing, shoes, etc:  Now, I must say that so far I've been pretty lucky when it comes to my kids wanting certain things....that far, they are pretty much content with driving me insane with all the electronic stuff (ugh). However, I'm sure that designer jeans, brand name tops, juicy this and couture that are all in our near future. How can we avoid it...honestly? You know you’re in trouble when a kindergartener is told her family must be poor because she always wears the same shoes to school, or when your teenage daughter has accumulated a thousand and one outfits in one year because she can't possibly wear the same dress twice...are you kidding me?Have you encountered anything as bizarre as this?
You see, although I love living here, I must say that it comes at a price. 
Among the mini mansions, luxury cars, state of the art digital apparatus and couture clothing, how do our kids stand a chance?  How skewed will our children’s view on life be? And how do we keep them from becoming self-important little monsters who feel as if they are entitled to anything and everything?
I want to be a good mother, but how can I steer my kids straight when my own compass wavers on occasion....and doesn’t always point due North? (I really did need those shoes....I’ve been looking for that perfect shade of red...and, now all I need is a dress to go with it....What? I’ve put in my time...a girl’s gotta have something...)
But all kidding aside, it’s very important to me that my kids know that they can’t have everything their little hearts desire. Just because a friend has something doesn't mean that they have to have it too. So, for now, if they ask me for something that I feel is not a real necessity, I resort to a firm “No”, or an occasional “maybe” and in a desperate attempt to end all conversation, a teeth baring, guttural, crazed eye “NO! And if you ask me one more time, you're in big trouble....and I mean it!!!” 
Do you have the same concerns? How do you keep your kids grounded in Franklin Lakes?
Well, that’s it for today, I just finished my venti-decaf-light-mocha-frappucino-no whip and....oh my god, is that the NEW’s so thin...and that cover is sooo cool....huh (as I glance down at my own “older” iPad, it suddenly feels so heavy), this thing feels like a brick...I think a lighter version would be a lot better...hmmm...
* This is an article I wrote for an online news site

Caution: Cyber Space Ahead

Ching chong, ling long, ting tong......Oh no she dinn’t....please tell me that girl didn't just do that? Are you kidding me?! 
Now, before I get on my little soap-box, let me explain to you what has gotten the Asian-American community and other minority groups up in arms. 
Two weeks ago, a UCLA student, Alexander Wallace, decided to post a video of herself as she rants about the Asians in her school. Now, let me go on the record and say that I agree with Ms. Wallace’s original intent, which was probably – “Don’t talk on the phone in the library.” However, it was the manner in which this message was delivered that got people in an uproar (and now it’s in cyberspace, taking on a life of its own).
In a fairly short amount of time, Wallace was able to demonstrate the difficulties in mastering the Chinese language (hence, my intro), she validated the fact that all Asians are the same and that geography doesn’t matter (FYI – the tsunami occurred in Japan not China – two totally different countries…they don’t speak the same language...they don’t even like each other) and she has successfully shown the world that the United States is still struggling with issues of race.
Have you seen this video yet? Well, Wallace has actually removed her original post, but as we all know, once it’s out in the cyberspace, there is no getting it back. 
Now, after much contemplation and discussion with my lawyers, I have decided to keep my fingers at bay in regards to my opinions on what Ms. Wallace was thinking…nope, I’m not going to rant on and on about this ignorant girl, but as an American of Asian descent, let me just say…what the *bleep* was she thinking? 
Ok, ok….calm down…breathe….just breathe…ohm-mmmmmm …I’m going to my happy place now…
Forget it, yoga is not gonna to help. UGH! Isn’t it funny that even though I am now an adult and a mother of three, I can still be affected by something so idiotic?!  Am I being silly? Possibly.
Well, after this “polite, American girl” posted her little rant, her vlog went viral and people went ballistic. I’m sure she had no idea how offensive her remarks were or how significant the repercussions would be and how, by posting a short little video, her life would change.
A couple of days after the post, the Chancellor of UCLA made a public statement voicing his disappointment, Wallace soon issued an apology and has since left the school and returned home. 
I guess she’s learned her lesson. 
But what was her lesson? What can we all take away from this, whether we’re Asian, White, Black, Latino or Alien (a nod to Katy Perry's new song – which I can’t stop singing)?   
Well, there is a lot that we can learn from this whole situation and a lot that we can share with our children, but the one issue that I wanted my kids to learn, besides the fact that racism is a huge No-No, is that once you put something out on the internet, you can never get it back.
Here, in Franklin Lakes, we’ve got young kids who have smartphones, iPads, laptops up the wahzoo...they have continuous access to the internet, which means that they can post pictures, type entries, upload videos to their Facebook accounts (yes….kids have FB accounts) or any other social network site at anytime. 
This also means that we, as parents, need to constantly remind our sweet little angels (this term is used loosely) that they need to be careful and understand that there are consequences to things that they do.
As a parent, I do try to explain to my oldest, who’s currently in FAMS, that with all this amazing technology come responsibilities. She needs to know that everything she types in an email, words that she uses in a text, photos that she takes and videos that she makes with her friends need to be done thoughtfully, because in the end, she will be held accountable for her action if they have been used to cause pain to others or even to herself (believe me, if she can’t get a job in the future because she posted a picture of herself partying it up, I’m not gonna be a very happy mama….to say the least….)
What advice do you have on how to teach kids this very important lesson? How do we make them understand that they are accountable when it comes to things they post and put on the internet, and that sometimes the result of their actions can be devastating?  
Before you hit that send button, or click on the share link or post a comment….stop and think, because once it’s out there you can never get it back.
*But of course, if you’re reading this article, you better click on the share button right away and post a nice comment or I will call in the Triad to take care of business.
*This is an article I wrote for an online news site

Bedtime Battles

I need some advice. I want to know what time do your kids sleep and most importantly, how do you enforce it?!
We are a family of night owls. Starting with my husband who works a whole lot of graveyard shifts, to me, Miss Stay-up-until-3 a.m. I know, I know, you’re thinking…..What can possibly be so important that she’s up at this crazy hour?
Well, obviously you haven’t played Words with Friends. I am absolutely ADDICTED!!! Currently, I’m engaged in 10 word battles with various opponents and I’m always looking for another fix or opponent, so look me up if you want to play! (Seriously, I think I might have a problem. Is it bad when you’re all bleary eyed and exhausted, lying in bed with the iPad propped up next to you, waiting for your opponent to make his next move? Could this be grounds for divorce?)
In all seriousness, how can I, an admitted Night Owl get her kids to bed at a reasonable hour and expect them to actually stay there and fall asleep? How do you do it? Do you have a routine that you follow every night? I did when the kids were babies….downtime, bath time, reading and then bedtime, but can you even do this for a first, fourth and sixth grader anymore?
For my oldest, it’s hard. On a typical day she doesn’t get home until 7:45 p.m. and then of course she has to eat (this is when you know she’s my daughter….man, that girl can eat!). Once dinner is done, we are looking at 8:45 p.m. when she’s finally putting pen to paper…the poor thing doesn’t finish until 11 or 12 at night. Which brings me to the crux of the problem — I feel bad for her. She barely ever has down time, so when the weekend rolls around, I allow her to stay up. I know, bad mom, but I want her be able to relax and not feel she is always on the run…I want her to hang out with friends, watch TV….and VEG OUT!!!
Please tell me that I’m not the only parent that feels this way. I know it sounds crazy, but I feel as if we need to schedule in playtime and down time, leaving no time for sleep.
I know sleep is important and I know my daughter is tired, so I try to let her sleep in whenever possible….on Sundays she doesn’t emerge from the covers until 12 noon and on the weekdays, I drive her to school which gives her some more snooze time, but I’m still literally prying her out of bed. What’s a mom to do? What are your suggestions? What’s working in your household?
The other issue that I have is that my two younger kids feel that they should also be going to bed around the same time as their older sister. UGH!!! I start getting them ready for bed around 9 p.m. (okay, so here is where I should probably make some adjustments, I guess we could start heading up around 8:30pm)…they bathe, change into their PJs and brush their teeth.
Then for the next two and a half hours, the real workout begins. I stomp up the stairs, yelling, "No DS in bed!" (FYI – take all handheld video games away at night)…. I stomp back down stairs, then 15 minutes later….stomp, stomp, stomp….NO giggling…stomp, stomp, stomp…10 minutes later, back up again…NO Talking…stomp, stomp, stomp…5 minutes later... NO Jumping…stomp, stomp, stomp...Then 2 minutes later…..(as my head spins around like Linda Blair in the Exorcist) I scream up the stairs…THAT’S IT!!! GO TO SLEEEEEP! Or you’re in big, and I mean BIG trouble!
Then I hear the click, click, click sound of my dog, as he heads into his crate for the night….why can’t my kids obey like him? Ohhhhh...that’s a good boy…
* This is an article I wrote for an online news site

A Spring in Your Step

Now that Spring is in the air, have you been thinking about that dreaded eight letter word? Need a hint? Think warm weather, summer vacation, pina colada, beach, cute guy standing at one o'clock….yup, you’ve got it…EXERCISE! This has been circling around in my head for weeks and I’ve come to the conclusion that I may need to start working out (sigh).
I know, you were probably just thinking about that four letter word? No, not the S word, the D word…..Diet! Right, well, anyone who knows me knows that is totally out of the question (at least for me). I’m a gal that loves her food. In fact, that’s one of the things that my husband and I had in common when we first started dating (of course that wasn’t the only thing…but it was an important commonality).  I needed a guy who wasn’t squeamish about eating different things….someone who could appreciate what other cultures had to offer, so…. good job honey!!!
I was never, ever the type of girl who would eat before going out and then order a salad for dinner so that I would seem more ladylike….please….I can’t even believe people actually do that…think about it! Hello….he’s taking you out, free meal (only kidding, but seriously, ya gotta eat!) Honestly, if I ate a salad for dinner or for lunch for that matter, you can be sure that I’ll be pilfering the pantry for something to eat within 30 minutes.
You see, I’m a meat and potatoes girl…as well as seafood…and pasta…and….well, you get the picture, and boy do I love bread, especially when it’s right out of the oven – nice and warm with a light, crunchy crust and a soft, airy inside just waiting to soak up the butter and provide me with a delicious savory treat….mmmmm (I’m making myself hungry). Anyway, this love of food is of course, carried on into my cooking. If you were to ever come and eat at my house, don’t expect me to do you or your waistline any favors. I don’t lighten things up. If it calls for four sticks of butter, that’s what’s going in. If it calls for regular cream cheese, you know I’m not putting in that light and fluffy stuff. Heavy cream? You got it. I’m all about the fat! Whatever the recipe calls for, that’s what I’m using! Here is my motto when it comes to cooking: Say NO to LOW! (I think my heart just protested.)
Needless to say, when the winter months roll around and I’m enjoying all the holiday dishes, the ever present muffin top starts grow. Occasionally, I wonder if I should retool my recipes and try eating light….but after much deliberation, I’ve decided against it — for now — maybe next year (more like when pigs fly) and as I said before I love food to much to diet…, the only solution is to exercise.
Now, I must applaud my girlfriends. They have such amazing self motivational skills when it comes to the E word. They go to the gym doing all sorts of crazy classes, some spin, some climb, some dance, some lift, some run….I hide. What's your favorite thing to do at the gym? 
My sister, who has two little ones at home, just ran a marathon in Maryland – hello?! That means that she trained every day and then drove herself from boondocks Pennsylvania to Maryland, just to run a marathon…(congrats Jen!)…me? There is absolutely no way I will ever do that. 
I have a wonderful girlfriend who has been so patient and wonderful with me.She knows that I “want” to exercise, so she’s been draggin’ my you know what to the gym and making me workout with her…little does she know, I’ve been using the lightest weights and resistance when we work out on the machines….shhh mum’s the word.
I have to say, though, it’s been fun seeing the faces of the people who work the reception desk at my gym. I’ve been a member there for almost two years and they have no idea who I am…it’s not their fault, it’s because I NEVER go. How many of you are like me, paying gym-support and haven’t yet exercised your visitation rights? Tsk tsk tsk….ha!
To be truthfully honest, I’m just not that into working out. Do I want to be fit and healthy? Of course, who doesn’t? But, I’d much rather be eating a delicious molten chocolate cake with raspberries coulis and a light dusting of confectioners sugar…while surfing (the web that is). Don’t get me wrong, I do “exercise.” I enjoy playing golf, I luv tennis (ya like the play on words? Cheesy, I know) and when I was younger and more agile I was a huge volleyball player — couldn’t get enough of it. I also try to make sure that my kids are active and do some type of sport and now my sister and I are getting our mom the Wii Fit. Yes…I said the Wii Fit.
Here's a little tidbit. Did you know that recent studies have actually shown that these so called “exergames” are a great alternative for exercising. Researchers have reported that when kids are playing these “exergames,” they expend at least if not more energy compared to running on a treadmill for the same amount of time.and in some cases they doubled the amount of energy spent(and they have fun doing it!). How awesome is that for the unplug-able family. Do any of you have these in your homes? Do you like them? Do you use them?
So, now that Spring break is literally right around the corner and Summer not that far off, I will of course try my best to go to the gym on a regular basis. I’ll use the elliptical, climb the Stair Master thingy and I will even up the resistance and increase the weights on the machines. But, in case I slip, I always have my fallback routine to keep me fit. Please feel free to include this in your daily workout regime – it’ll spice things up a bit!
  1. Cardio Workout:  Quickly clean the house by straightening, dusting, vacuuming and mopping. Remember to push and pull through your core and keep breathing.
  2. Cardio Blast: I do this occasionally, it’s called CTD or “chase the dog”, because he just ate my lunch or is gnawing on something he shouldn’t be in possession of…make sure you have good sneakers that allow you to cut corners. This is especially useful when the dog is playing “catch me if you can” around the coffee table.
  3. Strength Training: Every other day carry heavy loads of laundry up and down 2 ½ flights of stairs and oh, don’t forget to count the vacuum cleaner — that sucker is heavy, so remember to lift with your legs not your back.
  4. Abs: During all the above exercises, keep your tummy taut — center strong – so you also get a great abs workout throughout the day.
  5. Cool Down: My favorite...Hop into the car and drive to the mall and work out your wrists with the “swipe and sign” exercise…this activity gets the heart pumping, it’s great for the soul and it’ll put a spring in your step
If any of you have an awesome workout routine, please share with us...I would love to try something new.
* This is an article I wrote for an online news site